Participants visit rural Mayan partner communities and experience Guatemala’s incredible beauty, vibrant culture, colonial splendor, and breathtaking landscape around Antigua and Lake Atitlán.
The tour is full of opportunities to meet local Mayans in their villages and learn of their struggles, sacrifices, and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. See first-hand the positive changes in these indigenous communities where ALDEA has partnered to create lasting solutions to the persistent problems of poverty and inequality in rural Guatemala. Delve into the history of a people with extraordinary artistic and architectural creativity and sophistication. Witness the impact of colonization and religion on Guatemalan culture.
Participants from various areas and professions travel with ALDEA, forming strong bonds and a shared commitment to improving the lives of rural Mayans.
Participation Details: The activity level for this trip is moderately difficult due to walking on cobblestones, uneven surfaces, and up and down slopes; standing for periods of time; getting in and out of boats; and riding on bumpy roads. Tour is limited to 15 participants; all must be a minimum of 21 years of age. Participants are required to sign a liability waiver, to provide proof of COVID vaccination, and to have travel medical insurance coverage.
Travel Documents: A current U.S. passport is required. No visa is required for Guatemala visits of fewer than 90 days.
Climate: March weather in the Guatemalan Highlands is sunny, rain is unusual, daytime temperatures in 70s F, nights in the 50s.
Arrive at Guatemala City airport (GUA). Shuttle to colonial Antigua, check in at Hotel Aurora.
Antigua orientation walk followed by tour orientation. After lunch, explore Antigua on your own. Pre-dinner discussion of Guatemala’s social/political/economic situation with former U.S. Consul General/ALDEA board member.
Experience Guatemalan Lenten procession, typical lunch/cooking and weaving demo/product display at local family home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Over dinner, discuss ALDEA’s history and current program with former ALDEA board president.
ALDEA update in Chimaltenango by onsite Executive Director, travel to two rural Mayan villages – one village with ALDEA-sponsored environmental and empowerment projects completed and one without projects. Overnight stay at rustic San Ricardo Farm & Lodge in Tecpán. – best local accommodations.
Guided visit of the pre-Columbian ruins of Iximché en-route to Lake Atitlán, check in at Hotel Bambú. After lunch, join local guide Don Diego Chavez for tour of Santiago Atitlán’s church, and rectory where the first U.S.-born priest to be beatified was murdered in 1981. Shopping opportunities. Possible “Maximón” encounter.
AM boat rides—visit a San Pedro La Laguna museum on Mayan culture and the Lake’s geology and history, witness the natural dye process at local weavers’ cooperative in San Juan La Laguna. Free time in afternoon to relax at Hotel Bambú’s pool, shop in Santiago Atitlán, or visit neighboring communities by boat.
AM boat ride to Panajachel to meet our bus which will take us to visit another rural ALDEA village and participate with villagers in typical daily activities. Return to Antigua in time for dinner.
AM to mid-afternoon time to relax, shop, stroll in fascinating, colonial Antigua. Among many activity options: Visit a coffee plantation, jade factory, handicrafts market, museum, or spa; participate in chocolate truffles workshop or cooking class, climb Pacaya Volcano, or get a massage in your hotel room. Late afternoon guided tour of the historic Casa Santo Domingo monastery followed by special dinner finale at the hotel’s exquisite restaurant.
Shuttle to Guatemala City airport for flight departures OR plan additional post-tour activity, e.g. famous Chichicastenango market, overnight to Tikal or Copan, Spanish language school, cooking class, or visit more of Antigua.
“The ‘Glimpse of Guatemala Tour’ exceeded my expectations! The well-developed itinerary and fabulous local American, Guatemalan and Mayan guides provided fascinating presentations on history, culture, society, spirituality and political life. We had the opportunity to visit with Mayan villagers and observe the extraordinary impact made by ALDEA and ABPD to improve Mayan quality of life and living conditions. The tour was more than a glimpse of Guatemala—it was a tour like no other—a transformative experience for me.”
Mary Jane Snyder, 2020 Tour Participant